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Don’t bury your toes in the sand this summer: Tips to fight toenail fungus

Posted on by Steven J Kattler, DPM, FACFAS


With summer just around the corner, it will soon be time for sandals and barefoot walks on the beach. But if you’re dealing with toenail fungus, the thought of wiggling your toes in the sand may bring more apprehension than joy.

Nail fungus, or onychomycosis, is a very common fungal infection. And while normally harmless, toenail fungus can cause embarrassment and in some cases pain and discomfort. It can also be difficult to get rid of.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to both prevent and treat the condition. First, learn what to look for:

Signs of toenail fungus

  • A white or yellow spot appears under the tip of the nail
  • Nail becomes brittle or develops a yellow or brownish color
  • Nail thickens, changes shape, or crumbles at the edges
  • Area around the nail becomes painful
  • Nail detaches from the skin or nail bed

Are you at risk?

Men and older adults are more likely to develop toenail fungus. People with diabetes and circulation problems in the legs are also at increased risk. Other risk factors include:

Can toenail fungus be prevented?

There are steps you can take to help reduce the likelihood of developing toenail fungus:

  • Keep your feet dry and clean–fungi need moisture to thrive
  • Choose socks that wick away moisture
  • Choose well-fitting shoes made of a material that breathes – canvas, mesh, leather
  • Wear shower shoes in wet public places like locker rooms and swimming pools
  • Trim toenails straight across, keeping them shorter than the end of your toe. Wash tools (clippers, files) with soap and water, then wipe with rubbing alcohol.

And, always keep an eye on your toes for any changes, discoloration, cuts, or damage.

Treatment options

Since toenail fungus can resemble other conditions including psoriasis, it’s important to first be checked out by your family doctor or a podiatrist. Treatment options depend on both the type of fungus and degree of infection. Your doctor may recommend:

  • A topical cream like JUBLIA (efinaconazole) that is applied directly to the nail
  • A topical nail lacquer
  • An antifungal oral medication like Lamisil (terbinafine)
  • Removing the damaged area
  • In some cases, the nail may need to be removed

And finally, while it may be tempting to cover discolored nails with polish, resist the temptation. Nail polish prevents your nails from breathing, making it more difficult to get rid of the fungus.

Schedule an appointment online now.

 | LGHP - Parkesburg Podiatry

Steven J. Kattler, DPM, FACFAS, is a podiatrist with LG Health Physicians/Penn Medicine Podiatry. Dr. Kattler’s areas of special interest include sports medicine and gait analysis. He has expertise in treating athletic injuries, and utilizing custom orthotics and brace therapy. Education: Medical School—Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine; Residency—Frankford Hospital.

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